By Bryan Young
The DXG-711 is a point-n-shoot model that has all the designed functions needed to compete with other models in its category. The 711 is simple to use for the beginner and novice user, by using a fully automatic exposure control system. There's also 15 pre-programmed Scene modes, like One-touch Portrait, that will help users to capture great photos in a wide variety of different shooting situations. Using "Interpolated Resolution", the DXG-711 offers 10-megapixels of resolution from a 7-megapixel imager, a 3x optical zoom lens, and a 2.5- inch LCD, as well as high ISO capabilities (up to 800), all packaged in a compact and stylish shell.
The DXG-711 body design is almost identical to its competition, compact yet still comfortable in your hands, thanks to the enlarged right hand side. Controls are well placed, just within reach of your fingertips. I found the 2.5-inch LCD worked very well outdoors, and the anti-reflective surface made the display usable even with harsh sunlight beating directly upon it. When indoors or shooting in marginal lighting conditions, the display also "gains up" nicely to help aid in framing your subject. It even worked well taking a fast action movie.
Shooting performance was similar to other models, sluggish when using the flash. Power up to first image captured measured 3.1 seconds, much of which is consumed by extending the lens. Shutter lag, the time from depressing the shutter release to capturing an image, averaged just 1/10 of a second when pre- focused, slowing to a 7/10 of a second including auto focus time. When shooting in single exposure mode, the shot to shot delay measured approx. 2.3 seconds between frames without use of the flash and between 7 and 8 seconds with the flash, depending on subject distance and battery life. While the flash is recharging, the viewfinder blacks out completely. I also noticed that when using the camera's red-eye reduction flash mode, the viewfinder blanks during the pre-flash, a critical period of just under three seconds. Also, the flash will not work in 3-picture mode.
When using the 10M (10-megapixel Fine/High) interpolated image quality mode, the DXG-711 captures nice photos both indoors and out. Our out-door sample images were relatively sharp, with good color saturation. The exposure system handled our hazy summer days well, as seen in the lake picture on our samples page. Noise levels were acceptable for a digicam in this class, and became more noticeable when the camera selects a higher ISO setting (mostly above ISO 400). The "Blur Reduction" scene mode really helped the pictures out-doors, while it increased the ISO by only 30%. However, when using this mode indoors it increased the ISO 100% and added much more noise.
The 3x optical zoom lens offers a 35mm equivalent range of approx. 38 - 114mm. This allows for a typical amount of versatility in composing your shots. With the 38mm wide angle you should have sufficient range for most indoor or landscape shooting. While the telephoto end is best used for close-up photography (portraits, macros, etc.), but this will not bring in far away objects.
The flash can cover 1.3 - 8.5 feet at wide angle or 2 - 4.6 feet at telephoto. This is weak range, even for such a small camera. However I found when shooting from about 6 to 7 feet away, the DXG-711 produced pleasing close-up portraits that showed sharp facial detail, good exposure, and accurate skin tones.
Movie mode allows you to record videos at resolutions of 640x480 (30fps), and 320x240 (15fps). With its bright viewfinder I was able to follow a moving object, (even a flying BOAT!) quite well. The DXG-711 includes a microphone and movies are always recorded with sound. As with many compact digicams, the optical zoom can not be used during movie recordings, and must be set before you start your movie.
The DXG-711 is powered by two standard AA type cells. DXG does not specify battery life, however we were able to capture most of our sample pics and concluded many of our test on a single set of AA cells. A big plus is using standard batteries and not needing to have spare batteries with you.
Bottom line - The DXG-711 is an average 7-megapixel compact digicam that offers good image quality and plenty of useful features. With 15 fully automatic exposure modes, the 711 is an easy to use point-n-shoot. While, one issue that annoyed us was the slow flash recharge time, the bright 2.5 inch LCD was a pleasure to use, even in harsh sunlight. Overall, we feel the DXG-711 will make an OK choice for the consumer looking for an affordable model for under US$150.
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